Yesterday night I attended a reception for the international scholars to UCSB. This was the first time that such a celebration took place in Santa Barbara, thanks to an anonymous donor. It was a lively event, and various important people from the UCSB campus showed up. I won’t bore you with the details.
Amongst the interesting facts that I collected yesterday, was that most international students in the US come to study in the science and technology fields, while very few people from the US go out to study and when they do, the statistic is mostly on humanities. I also found out that there are about 640000 students from abroad in US Universities, and that US Universities graduate about 30000 PhD’s annually.
Not surprisingly, current cuts in US University funding (especially state Universities) will hurt the efforts to get the best (graduate) students to the US, with the consequent deterioration of the pool of people with talent contributing to the US economy. An interesting article regarding this issue can be found here.
If you couple all of this progressive lack of investment by the states into the education system, the future starts looking pretty bad, not just for education, but for the US economy.
This year I am working on a University committee in charge of international education. So I have to learn quite a bit about this stuff.
Simple observation: if you lose loose the people from abroad (who are extremely good students), and you lose loose the local people (because they can not afford to go to school any longer), where is the human capital investment in the future development of technology going to come from?
Remember, modern economies depend on having the best and most innovative modern technology in order to compete. And, new ideas for technology come from people who know what the current technologies are, what they can do and how to make them. Ideas are not born from thin air.